A Midland scuba diver with severe decompression sickness was seriously ill in an Egyptian hospital last night, unaware he faces a bill of up to #40,000 because his insurers are refusing to cover his treatment.
Anthony Allen, aged 68, a divorcee from Shirley in Solihull, got "type two bends" - the worst kind - during a dive on Monday in the resort of Marsa Alam where he had been holidaying alone.
Egyptian medical experts say the retired factory manager needs up to three weeks of recompression treatment, six hours a day, costing #344 an hour - a bill his LloydsTSB travel insurance policy will not honour.
The firm said it would not pay up as Mr Allen (pictured) went deeper than the 30-metre limit stipulated in its small print.
Mr Allen's sons said that their father, a highly experienced diver, probably did not know about the limit.
They also said doctors had told them their father's illness was caused by dehydration, and not the depth to which he dived.
Son Chris, aged 26, from Shirley, said: "I would imagine he was unaware of the 30-metre limit on his policy, otherwise he would have got different insurance, but we don't know."
He said his father, who retired as manager of A and D die casting plant in Cannock in 2002, was an advanced open water diver with a licence that allowed him to go far deeper than 30 metres.
He said he and his brother Mark had spoken to their father on the telephone but had deliberately not mentioned the problem with his travel insurance on medical advice.
"We're not mentioning it as stress is very bad for the bends," he said.
His other son Mark, aged 31, a marketing analyst from Swindon, Wiltshire, said Egyptian doctors had told them their father's bends were caused by dehydration.
He said last night: "We are currently trying to get a document from Egypt to give to the insurance company. It explains that my father's illness was caused by dehydration. How deep he went is beside the point.
"We're hoping it will get here by tomorrow morning so they'll reconsider. The fact the claim was just outright rejected without any further investigation is very frustrating. We're trying not to think about what we will do if they don't reconsider. It's quite scary. They could ruin our family.
"We're toying with the idea of going out there to him, because it can't be very nice on his own, but we're worried about the cost."
His partner Laura, aged 31, said: "The trouble with the insurance company is that they said 'no' straight off. It's very upsetting. They should be looking into the cause, asking why he went so deep."
Lorely Burt, the Liberal Democrat MP for Solihull, said Mr Allen had done a "textbook dive with a perfect ascent" but had become ill because of dehydration.
She said a medical report was on its way to the travel insurance firm's underwriters so they could see for themselves.
She added: "Tony's computer shows he acted completely responsibly, coming to the surface in exactly the prescribed manner with staged rests at the appropriate depths.
"He is an experienced diver and I hope they will let fairness, not the small print of the policy, guide their decision. We are hoping LloydsTSB have a sense of fairness and compassion."
LloydsTSB insurance said in a statement: "The terms and conditions of his (Mr Allen's) policy exclude cover for scuba diving beyond a depth of 30 metres. This is a common exclusion in travel insurance policies.
"The tour company which Mr Allen was diving with has confirmed that he reached a depth of 49.5 metres immediately prior to seeking medical assistance.
"We also have confirmation from doctors treating him that his illness is directly related to him participating in a dive to that depth.
"Therefore we are unable to accept this claim. Should any additional medical evidence come to light we would, of course, reassess that situation."
The Foreign Office has been informed by the family about the incident.
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